Reverie Nature Podcast

Navigation: Lost Proofing--Definitely not the basics

April 10, 2024 Chad Clifford Season 2 Episode 3
Navigation: Lost Proofing--Definitely not the basics
Reverie Nature Podcast
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Reverie Nature Podcast
Navigation: Lost Proofing--Definitely not the basics
Apr 10, 2024 Season 2 Episode 3
Chad Clifford

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Welcome to the Reverie Nature Podcast with your host, Chad Clifford. In this week's episode titled "LostProofing: Definitely Not the Basics," 

Join us as we transcend the basics of wilderness navigation, demanding a heightened awareness and adaptable mindset in the face of disorientation. We explore being prepared beyond knowing how to use a compass or read a map—it's about honing your senses, recognizing natural cues, and staying calm under pressure. Whether you're an experienced adventurer or new to the wilderness, mastering the art of "LostProofing--Definitely not the basics", is a powerful approach for staying safe and confident in your outdoor pursuits. So, as you venture forth into nature, remember to stay vigilant, stay prepared, and always embrace the adventure with respect and mindfulness. Don't forget to learn the basics too! We do not cover the so-called basics here as described in the episode. 

If you need survival or navigation training, go and get it. You need it! This podcast, of course, is for entertainment purposes only.

Please consider leaving a rating and/or review wherever you listen to the podcast. Don't forget to share a good episode on social media too. The mid-roll ad on this podcast includes the song entitled House of Mirrors, by Chad Clifford (Pete Meyer on flute).

Support the Show.

Thank you for tuning in to the Reverie Nature Podcast! Your support keeps our adventures alive. Be certain to subscribe for more captivating episodes exploring the wonders of the natural world. Join us on this journey to embrace nature's song and preserve the beauty of our planet. Together, we can make a difference.

Chad Clifford

Please support the podcast through a donation or subscription at:
Buy me a coffee

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Please support the podcast through a donation or subscription at
Buy me a coffee
Welcome to the Reverie Nature Podcast with your host, Chad Clifford. In this week's episode titled "LostProofing: Definitely Not the Basics," 

Join us as we transcend the basics of wilderness navigation, demanding a heightened awareness and adaptable mindset in the face of disorientation. We explore being prepared beyond knowing how to use a compass or read a map—it's about honing your senses, recognizing natural cues, and staying calm under pressure. Whether you're an experienced adventurer or new to the wilderness, mastering the art of "LostProofing--Definitely not the basics", is a powerful approach for staying safe and confident in your outdoor pursuits. So, as you venture forth into nature, remember to stay vigilant, stay prepared, and always embrace the adventure with respect and mindfulness. Don't forget to learn the basics too! We do not cover the so-called basics here as described in the episode. 

If you need survival or navigation training, go and get it. You need it! This podcast, of course, is for entertainment purposes only.

Please consider leaving a rating and/or review wherever you listen to the podcast. Don't forget to share a good episode on social media too. The mid-roll ad on this podcast includes the song entitled House of Mirrors, by Chad Clifford (Pete Meyer on flute).

Support the Show.

Thank you for tuning in to the Reverie Nature Podcast! Your support keeps our adventures alive. Be certain to subscribe for more captivating episodes exploring the wonders of the natural world. Join us on this journey to embrace nature's song and preserve the beauty of our planet. Together, we can make a difference.

Chad Clifford

Please support the podcast through a donation or subscription at:
Buy me a coffee

Transcribed by
Welcome to the Reverie Nature Podcast. Get ready to explore a series of episodes on the nature experience, from engaging bushcraft, reading animal tracks and sign, exploring the world of nature soundscapes, and much more. But before we dig in, a big thank you to our listeners.

(0:22 - 0:40)
Please take this moment to subscribe and offer your support to the podcast. I'm Chad Clifford, your host, and this week's episode is called Lost Proofing. Definitely not the basics.

(0:41 - 1:14)
The reason for this podcast is to help you become more aware and oriented in your wilderness surroundings, regardless of whether you know the basics of navigation or not. So let's remember that this is a podcast for entertainment purposes, only if you do need training on the wilderness survival skills or navigation, you need to go and get it. Let's face it, ideally a person heading out into the woods will be prepared, and as you can imagine, there's a broad range of abilities and preparedness out there.

(1:15 - 1:40)
And depending on those abilities, you know, some may view getting lost during the day as a temporary situation that only causes minor stress, maybe even something to joke about the next day while cooking freshly-caught lake trout over a fire. At the same time, I think for most people, the realization of becoming lost will be terrifying. As you likely know, if you do get lost, making brash decisions can only make things worse.

(1:41 - 2:16)
If you have been lost for 15 minutes, for example, why would you wander around aimlessly in a panic for two hours? It doesn't make sense. You know, at that point, you'd probably just get yourself into a worse situation. There's lots of stories of just that.

So if you do find yourself lost, the advice I hear most of the time is to stay put. Look after yourself, consider how to make yourself easier for rescuers to find you, and make a plan from there to look after your needs and safety. Don't make rash decisions based on panic.

(2:17 - 2:29)
And I have a couple of other episodes just on those sorts of topics you should check out. There are many situations that can challenge the outdoors persons when navigating. Let's go over a few examples.

(2:31 - 2:41)
Example one, you're camping. You leave your campsite and your gear just to go out on a short hike. And like I said, your navigation gear probably got left behind too.

(2:41 - 3:15)
Within a few minutes, you're lost. Or how about this? Your navigational maps get ruined or lost while en route, whether you tip in rapids and they get soaked or lost, whether they blow away in the wind, or maybe you just don't know what happened to them. That's happened to me.

My map somehow just disappeared for no good reason. I still don't know that mystery to this day, but it turned out fine. Another thing that can happen to our navigators is, believe it or not, saplings, young branches will literally pickpocket your compass.

(3:16 - 3:37)
I've seen this happen four or five times to myself a couple of times until I got a little smarter. What happens is the string on your compass is usually hanging out of your front pocket where it's very convenient to grab your compass as you go. With that string hanging out of that pocket, it catches on the branches and the brush.

(3:38 - 3:59)
And when a sapling or a twig gets hooked on that rope, it bends over ever so lightly and ever so gently, springs back and pulling that compass right out of your pocket. I've seen that happen out of front shirt pockets too. That your compass needs to be around your neck, right? And tucked into your pocket from there, but the string needs to be around your neck.

(4:00 - 4:10)
It will get lifted. I've had to backtrack and just to find my compass hanging on a branch more than once. And I've seen it literally pickpocket someone else's compass on the go.

(4:11 - 4:22)
So that's one odd way that you can get in trouble navigating. And of course, the batteries in your GPS or cell phone dies. Or you simply don't know how to use your GPS or cell phone app either.

(4:23 - 4:33)
There's the loss of coverage for your cell phone. Sometimes you can be in an area where your GPS doesn't get very good coverage. You know, perhaps the tree cover on the older GPS's.

(4:33 - 4:55)
The screens on your compasses and for your GPS's or cell phones will freeze very quickly out in the colder weather. In the northern regions of Canada, for instance, I've had that happen with groups before where the actual compasses, the liquid in there would freeze. And certainly with the screens of a GPS, you need to keep those in your coat.

(4:55 - 5:05)
So that's another problem that can happen. This list goes on and on and on and on. The kind of situations you will get in when you're navigating.

(5:06 - 5:19)
Not to mention the more difficult things like when you are, we won't call it loss. Let's say a little disoriented on a river, for example. And you need to triangulate your position based on features on the map and features on the landscape.

(5:20 - 5:31)
How you can kind of jive those together to figure out where you are. It's called triangulation. If you haven't had that skill well practiced, good luck with that in the field where things are a little stressful.

(5:32 - 5:56)
Anyway, if you are really good at backcountry travel, you'll tend to notice these little things and have built up a resistance to having these things happen to you. But let's face it, a little complacency by an experienced person can get you in a jam just like an inexperienced person. On today's episode, I'm not even going to cover the basics of navigation or what is typically learned first.

(5:57 - 6:16)
And what I mean by the basics is having a solid trip itinerary. Even for short excursions, not to mention the longer ones, people need to know your plans in detail. When you're expected to be back, your daily plans, any possible routes you might explore, your escape routes that you might need.

(6:17 - 6:42)
But that's a topic for another full episode at least, maybe even a whole podcast. Another thing I call the basics is having a strong understanding of map encompass, along with GPS use and the coordinate system and how to apply them. Can you take GPS coordinates and put them on a map? Are you using UTM codes or longitude and latitude? There's good reason to use each.

(6:44 - 7:08)
And I already mentioned the triangulating part. Another thing that I would call the basics is knowing if you are using your phone app, do you know how to use that app? Do you know what it really means? It's one thing to follow an arrow on your phone, but your phone's going to run out of batteries quick if you just have that open the whole time. You really need to use these tools along with a compass that doesn't use up batteries in the meantime.

(7:10 - 7:22)
What else? Let's see. Oh yeah, knowledge of how to navigate through a landscape. You know, it's one thing to look at a map and say, oh, here's a route here, but no, you got to look for rapids.

(7:22 - 7:33)
You have to look for elevation changes if you're hiking. You know, there's a whole list of things to be prepared for with navigation. All these things are going to have their own episode later.

(7:33 - 7:51)
Stay tuned for that for sure. So what is loss-proofing definitely not the basics about? Well, as I hinted in the introduction, it's more about getting oriented to the wilderness regardless of whether you know these basics or not. Really, it's as much about awareness of your surroundings.

(7:53 - 8:11)
It's just as much an awareness as it is hands-on skills. It'll work to offer you more confidence on your journey too. These skills, as they have for me, will allow you to catch yourself when you would otherwise be led into a situation of perhaps becoming lost.

(8:13 - 8:34)
Your awareness of yourself also needs to be monitored. Are you calm enough to make decisions when navigating, or are you a little panicked? You got to be on top of that as well. If you are in a bit of a panic situation, you do need to take the time until you are calm enough to make sensible choices, rational choices.

(8:35 - 8:44)
Anyway, so let's get started with loss-proofing. Definitely not the basics. And I'm going to go through a baker's dozen's batch of tips for you here.

(8:45 - 9:01)
When I do say not the basics, I'm not talking about advanced stuff. You know, this stuff's easier to learn than some of the map and compass details you're going to have to learn. However, it goes hand in hand with navigation, and these are stuff that will help you.

(9:02 - 9:35)
So let's start with number one. How about when you're walking through the landscape, whether you have a compass on you or not? How about considering what the view of the landscape looks like from the sky? Whether you're a pilot or pretending you're an eagle, look at the landscape under that lens. Where are the hills? What's the topography like? Is there a ridge line along where you're walking? You know, ridge lines or lakes or valleys, those are what navigators call handrails.

(9:35 - 9:49)
The topography on the landscape, you can follow these handrails, and that's a way to orient yourself. But do be sure to pay attention to these things. It's easy to kind of look at the ground and walk.

(9:50 - 10:01)
If you're following someone else, there's a tendency to look at their heels as they walk, looking at the ground. No, that's disastrous. You need to be taking it all in as you should be anyway.

(10:02 - 10:18)
So consider the topography from a bird's eye view all the time. As far as that goes, you need to look behind yourself every, I would say, you know, every minute at least. So it means stopping, just turning around, looking.

(10:18 - 10:38)
What does the land, if I had to backtrack, what am I going to be seeing? It looks different, very different. You know, it's very easy to be walking, especially if you're off trail, turn around and not really know which way you came from. Yeah, you got to get past that for being a good navigator.

(10:39 - 10:57)
You do need, and this includes being on rivers too. You know, if there's joining rivers or whatnot, or it's creeks coming in, or you're coming off a creek, you know, all these things matter on larger lakes, especially or wider rivers where, you know, things look just like in the woods. They look different when you're looking behind you.

(10:58 - 11:10)
All right, so we got the bird's eye view using handrails, the topography. Keep that in mind, looking behind you. Now, here's a great tip here, this next one.

(11:10 - 11:34)
And we're on tip, what are we at? One, two, I guess this will be tip number three. Consider the sun, whether you have a compass on you or not. When you're walking, the sun moves obviously, right? And if you're in the northern hemisphere, it moves from the east to the west.

(11:34 - 11:51)
It rises in the east about midday, it's south in the south when it's the highest, and then it fades towards the west. So the next day it's going to do the same thing. So 360 degrees is the route.

(11:52 - 12:06)
So in 24 hours, the sun travels 360 degrees. Yes, obviously, but let's do a little bit of math here. 360 degrees divided by 24 hours is 15 degrees an hour.

(12:07 - 12:29)
So if you're hiking through the woods and you notice the sun is shining on your right temple, an hour later, if you're walking in a straight line, it'll be about 15 degrees further over. So it'll be a little more towards your ear, not so much on your temple as you walk. If you want to walk a straight line, that is a solid way to do it.

(12:30 - 12:49)
Every hour, even if you don't have a watch, you just guesstimate the time, right? So know that the sun moves 15 degrees an hour. If you want to walk a straight line, keep track of the time, and that will keep you going more or less straight. Let's move on to Baker's Dozen Tips number four.

(12:50 - 13:00)
This one is one that you probably won't use much. I certainly have, and that's using the North Star. The star is for navigation.

(13:01 - 13:19)
If you did not know, the North Star remains in the north. True north, that is. So what can you do with that? Well, if you do get out on some nighttime treks like I do, I don't recommend nighttime treks unless you know what you're doing for all kinds of reasons, for safety.

(13:20 - 13:39)
However, yeah, keep in mind the North Star. If you don't know how to find the North Star, it is related to the Big Dipper. So if you do a quick search on the internet on finding the North Star, you will likely be introduced to the Big Dipper, which looks like a big dipping cup with a handle on it.

(13:40 - 14:01)
And I'll just describe it here quickly for you. In the container of the Big Dipper, the opposite side of the handle, there's two stars that make up the far lip of the dipper or the part that would hold water. Those two stars, if you line them up, point towards the North Star.

(14:02 - 14:26)
And how far away is the North Star? Well, if you take the distance from those two stars out of the Big Dipper and you times that by five in line with those two stars, you will come to the brightest star in that region called the North Star. And anyway, that's a brief description. If you can't quite picture the way I'm describing it, just do a quick search on the internet, Big Dipper and the North Star.

(14:27 - 14:39)
One time, this certainly helped me out. I was going between two campsites of other campers. I was with a camp counselor, and I was a program director for an out-tripping program.

(14:40 - 14:53)
And I sort of knew the trails in the area. There was a very small bush trail between these two regions that I wanted to get to. I thought I could do it in the dark, and we started out on this trail.

(14:54 - 14:58)
And I thought we were still on the trail. It seemed like it. We didn't even have flashlights.

(14:59 - 15:13)
We were going old school, that's for sure. Anyway, I noticed that the North Star wasn't where it should be for the direction I thought we were heading. We decided I trusted the logic of that.

(15:14 - 15:22)
I didn't go on my gut feelings like many people would. And I said, okay, let's turn around. We're going almost in the completely wrong direction here.

(15:22 - 15:44)
So we turned around, and we were just able to follow that, what you could call a bit of a trail back, just barely. But we did it. But it was because of just being aware of my surroundings, the North Star not being where it should be, and not being panicked enough to think that the North Star has jumped, or all of a sudden I didn't know what the North Star was, or where it was.

(15:45 - 15:58)
We used a bit of logic and got out of there, no problem. Which, otherwise, we could have been circling for a while in the dark. Oh, and another thing I should say is your confidence about the North Star.

(15:59 - 16:30)
With all these things, these facts, even with map and compass, obviously, if you're doing triangulation, you need to be practiced enough to trust yourself, trust your skills. You need to practice these things. If you can sort of do triangulation and you did it, if you're not sure if you did it right, then your inner direction finder, your gut feeling is probably going to be overpowering, and then from there it goes downhill.

(16:32 - 16:54)
Another thing which I don't necessarily would recommend, it's just something to keep an eye on, is the moss on trees. And moss tends to grow on the north side of trees. It grows, in other words, on the side of the tree that is damp, moist, does not get a lot of sunlight.

(16:54 - 17:09)
So the south side of trees tend to have less moss. So it's not something I would necessarily navigate by, but it is something I kind of keep an eye out for. I actually keep an eye out for it just to see how true this is.

(17:09 - 17:26)
And most times, yes, you can have moss going way up a tree on the south, or sorry, the north side. And the sunny side, or the south side, tends to have less of this moss going up the tree. But I've also seen it be the absolute opposite, and for no reason it just grows on the south side.

(17:27 - 17:46)
That's not typically the case, but it certainly can happen. So it's just a cue for you as you're walking. Notice these things, and if there's a whole bunch of trees with the moss on what you think is the south side, it's like, oh, wait a sec, is that really south? You know, just pay attention to your landscape in this way.

(17:47 - 18:00)
Okay, let's go on to our next thing on the list for our baker's dozen of tips. And it's something called trembling aspen sunscreen. And there is such a thing.

(18:01 - 18:13)
On the trembling aspen, it's a poplar. And if you don't know what trembling aspen look like in the springtime especially, they almost look like birch from a distance. Their bark is very white.

(18:13 - 18:26)
That whiteness tends to be on the south side. Oh, and also trembling aspen. The reason it gets its name is it has these leaves that are, I would say maybe two inches in diameter.

(18:28 - 18:43)
And the stem on these leaves is vertically flattened. So it has this flat stem with a round leaf. And when that leaf catches the wind, that vertical stem, it tends to make these leaves shimmer.

(18:44 - 18:55)
Or maybe not so much shimmer as tremble. So the trembling aspen leaf. Okay, anyway, this whiteness on the south side, it forms in the springtime.

(18:55 - 19:03)
And it's like a chalk. You can literally go up to this bark and rub your hands on it. And your hands will be white with this chalk substance.

(19:04 - 19:21)
And you can actually use this chalky substance to rub on your skin where it might be chafing. It actually is like a powder. The explanation I have heard for why the sunscreen exists and why it's called sunscreen is in the early spring when the temperatures are up and down and all over the place.

(19:22 - 19:39)
You have the spring thaws and then it gets cold again. Well, what happens is the trees tend to shoot up a lot of sap in this warmer weather. And if it gets cold again, that sap that's up into all the cells of the tree as that expands, it can crack cells and be hard on the tree.

(19:40 - 20:00)
So what the trembling aspen does is it grows the sunscreen on the south side. And the sunscreen, because it's white, literally reflects the sunlight and the heat off its bark. And that is a bit of a resistance to those early thaws where like the fall starts the summer, basically.

(20:01 - 20:12)
It's not going to send up the much sap at that point. It's going to wait till things get a little warmer, a little late in the year. So sunscreen on the trembling aspen leaves, the south side.

(20:13 - 20:27)
Can you trust that it's always on the south side? No, it's not a compass, just like moss on trees. But it is another thing. It's something the landscape is showing you that tends to give you some direction, some cues.

(20:28 - 20:42)
I don't rely on these sorts of things, but I notice them. And if enough of these little things build up, I'm taking them seriously. Just like our other points, you need to start trusting your abilities to see these things.

(20:43 - 20:51)
So pay attention as you're out there. Navigation should always be on your mind if you're bushwhacking especially. Let's go to our next tip.

(20:52 - 21:07)
And this is more for the paddlers. If you're on a meandering kind of creek-ish river thing or it's very still out, which way is the current going? You might not know. There are situations where you're wondering which way the current is going.

(21:08 - 21:18)
Look at the weeds. The weeds under the water, guess what? They're bent towards the direction of the current. They're trying to float downstream.

(21:18 - 21:27)
They just happen to be anchored. Little things like that. I don't know if that's going to help you with your direction at any point, but it's certainly an indicator of which way the water is moving.

(21:27 - 21:51)
Cloud movement, likewise, it can change. But which way are the clouds moving? Which way do they usually go in your area? Pay attention to these things. If it's a calm day and they're moving in one direction and you're hiking through the woods an hour later, they're moving a different direction, but the weather hasn't changed otherwise, that's an indicator.

(21:51 - 22:10)
It could well be that they're moving a different direction, but it's more likely, depending, that they're not and you're probably going a different direction yourself. So it's just another indicator of something that's changed in your environment that you should be aware of and you should be taking these things anyway, enjoying that kind of stuff. Let's go to our next tip.

(22:11 - 22:31)
There's something called shadow sticks and you can search that one on the internet too. I'm sure you'll get some good instructions on how to do shadow sticks, but I'll explain it here just quickly. It might be hard to get this image in your mind, but shadow sticks is when you have a half hour or an hour.

(22:31 - 22:47)
I deal at lunchtime when you're not traveling. What you can do, if it's a nice clear day especially, is on the ground I find a dead branch. I stick it into the ground and this branch will be about three feet tall.

(22:48 - 22:55)
It doesn't really matter about the height. The longer it is, I think the more accurate. Anyway, I try and get one that's at least about three feet.

(22:55 - 23:17)
I stick it into the dirt or sand and I don't want branches on it or anything like that. So it's just some dead branch, right? Anyway, I look for the shadow, the shadow that that branch creates and I find the end of the shadow. Where's the tip of the stick or the tip of the shadow? Whatever, it could be three feet away.

(23:17 - 23:31)
It could be two feet away depending on the height of the sun. Anyway, when I find the tip of that shadow, I put another smaller stick into the ground. And this stick can literally be just a few inches, just enough so you know where it is to mark that spot.

(23:32 - 23:48)
And as the sun, half hour later, moves at seven and a half degrees, it moves to the west, the sun does. It creates a shadow that's now moving more towards the east. So you can give it half an hour.

(23:48 - 24:05)
I would give it an hour, it'd be even better. But an hour later, that shadow will have moved, the tip of the shadow should have moved 15 degrees from where it was coming from. So hour later, where is the tip of that longer stick? Where is the tip of that shadow? You put another stick there.

(24:06 - 24:28)
And now you have two points. And that, those two points are, you can get another longer stick now and make a line out of those two points you just made. And now you're, you basically, when you've made a line or put a stick against those two sticks on the ground, you can put another stick perpendicular to that.

(24:28 - 24:37)
And now you have your north, south, east, west line. And guess which side is the south? The side that the sun is on. That's your south, south line.

(24:39 - 24:45)
Okay, that's your south, north line. And the other would be east and west. So that's another little tip.

(24:45 - 24:57)
It's called shadow sticks. And depending on where you are and your magnetic declination of the area, you can't just take this and assume it's going to be perfectly accurate. But it's generally accurate.

(24:58 - 25:03)
You know, it gives you roughly an idea. It's just another thing. I kind of use this as a bit of a novelty.

(25:04 - 25:19)
However, it's there. There's another thing too that's interesting. You know, on those, if you're trying to use the sun for navigation and it's a cloudy day and you just cannot tell where the sun is, one of those days, there's still a way to figure out where that sun is.

(25:19 - 25:38)
This is a neat little trick. What you do is you grab a blade of grass or something that's about the diameter of a piece of straw, fairly thin. And what you do is you stand there and you hold out your thumbnail in front of you on one hand.

(25:39 - 25:56)
And with this, something that resembles a straw or a narrow stick, you hold that on your thumb. And you want this to be about three inches long, the stick. And you put the one end of the stick on your thumbnail and you're holding the top of that stick with your other hand.

(25:56 - 26:12)
And what you do is you look for a shadow on your thumbnail from the stick. And you slowly do a 360 right where you are. You're standing and you're turning your whole body in a whole 360, trying to see where that shadow is the strongest.

(26:13 - 26:35)
And there are days, some days it just doesn't really work very well because it's too overcast. There are other days where, yes, you cannot tell the direction of where the sun is, but you are getting a shadow reading on your thumbnail from doing this trick. And, you know, in dire situations, that's worth using, right? That's another tool for you to use.

(26:36 - 26:47)
I practice that often on those days, just to get used to seeing if I can make out that shadow. Right? So I'm building my trust in that skill. So that's another baker's dozen tip.

(26:50 - 27:22)
Let's go to baker's dozen tip number, I think we're at 11 now. And this one is one I don't really bother using myself, but it's magnetizing a needle. If you have a needle in your kit somewhere, not too likely do, but if you do have a needle and you have some traditional clothing, like some wool clothing, you can rub that needle in the same direction on your wool shirt, and you will start to build up a charge in that needle.

(27:22 - 27:49)
You're magnetizing the needle. Once that needle is magnetized, it can be used as a compass. And how do you do that? You find a still puddle of water, you put that magnetized needle on a small leaf to help it to float, and the magnetic pull of that needle to align itself to the magnetic north will be strong enough to turn it in the water as it's floating on the leaf.

(27:50 - 28:07)
Now you can find magnetic north that way. Anyway, this is something I don't often do, but it's another one for the toolkit. Anyway, so let's do a quick review before I go on to baker's dozen tip number 13.

(28:08 - 28:25)
Yes, a baker's dozen does have more than 12 usually. They usually give you a couple of extra, at least the good baker's do, right? Okay, we first talked about having an eagle eye or the view from up above, like from a plane, whatnot. View your landscape that way.

(28:26 - 28:34)
Notice the topography. It will help you. It'll help you where you're heading, and if you have to return on the same path, it'll help you follow that back.

(28:35 - 28:43)
You're looking for those handrails, right? Look behind you often. That's baker dozen's tip number two. Look behind you regularly.

(28:44 - 28:50)
Things can look very different when you turn around. So do that. It works.

(28:51 - 29:00)
Baker's tip number three, use the 360-degree rotation of the sun. Every 24 hours, it comes back.

Transcribed by 

Transcribed by 
(0:00 - 0:11)
Back to the same spot. So if the Sun moves 15 degrees an hour, remember that as you're walking. Number four, it's finding the North Star by using the Big Dipper.

(0:12 - 0:49)
You should not be walking and hiking around at night, but if you are, that is certainly a good way to find true north. Not magnetic north, but true north. Let me get sidetracked for just a moment here.

This is kind of a neat activity for you navigators. When you do locate the Big Dipper at night, or sorry, at the North Star at night, what you can do, this is fun. You find a tree and you orient yourself to that tree.

So that tree is right underneath the North Star. Okay, that tree oriented from where you're standing is right under the North Star. It's pointing up to it.

(0:49 - 1:19)
What you do then is you take your compass and you point your compass housing at the base of that tree. It's too hard to point it at the North Star because you have to tilt the compass up on an angle and then the needle doesn't sit properly. Point your compass housing at that tree and then adjust.

We're getting into map and compass use now. This might be something you know where it might not be. Then you turn your dial of the compass until the needle lands, what I call in its little red parking lot.

(1:20 - 1:42)
Anyway, so what you're doing by that is you're finding the degrees of declination of your area. So your compass is pointing true north at that tree or the North Star and your needle, magnetic needle, is pointing to magnetic north. Whether you have an east declination or a west declination, it's telling you that.

(1:43 - 2:10)
Anyway, that's just a fun little thing you can give the world some time. Where were we? I think the next thing was Baker's Dozen Tip number number five. I think we're at.

That was the moss on trees. I told you not to trust the fact that mosses typically grow on the north side of a tree, but they tend to. You just don't want to rely on that for your sole way of navigating, obviously.

(2:11 - 2:21)
Number six was the sunscreen on the trembling Aspen bark. So those two things together. Yes, the landscape is telling you where the sun tends to shine.

(2:22 - 2:31)
Baker's Tip number seven. I think we're at seven. This one, when you're paddling in the water, you want to know the direction of the current.

(2:32 - 3:19)
Look at the weeds. They're pointing in that direction. They're trying to be uprooted and flow downstream, obviously.

You have cloud movement. Of course, clouds can change direction, but if 15 minutes from where you're currently walking, the clouds are now moving in a different direction, maybe it's not the clouds that have changed direction. It might be you.

So consider that. So on number nine, we had shadow sticks. And then we talked about magnetizing a needle to get your magnetic north.

And let me step back. I forgot to do one and it has to do with the time of day. Let's suppose the time of day is two o'clock, two in the afternoon.

(3:20 - 3:42)
Okay, what you can do if you want to find a north, south, east, west line is you put your watch. I actually what I do is I find the time of day and I draw a clock in the sand or dirt. And when I'm drawing this old fashioned clock in the dirt, I label it 12, 6, 3, and 9 o'clock.

(3:42 - 7:18)
And then I draw an hour hand that's pointing towards the sun. And if it's two o'clock, I orient my clock face with the two and the three, the six and the nine oriented around the hour hand, which is pointing at the sun and it's two o'clock. Now you dissect the angle between the hour hand and 12 on your clock face.

And that is your north, south line. Okay, now we do have daylight savings times and trying to figure out what do we, who we had right now? Are we behind? Yes, there's that. And there's, you know, the, the declination of your area.

I actually had a, a watch that had a, an extra hand or dial on it, not dial, but an extra hand on the watch. And it was just for this to point that dial at the sun. And when you point that dial at the sun, yet you, where that dial would be actually, not dial, where that extra hand on my watch was, was it was always dissecting between 12 o'clock on your watch and where the hour hand currently is.

And that's your north, south line. There's other ways to use your watch for this, but that will work. And I, I think I've read that that works most accurately between the hours of 930 and 330, something like that.

So if it's maybe 830 in the morning or, or five at night, it's probably less accurate. I'm not sure the reason why. Anyway, that's just another tip that you can use by knowing the time of day.

And like I said, yeah, there's the magnetic declination that goes along with this as well. So, but it is another tool. Now there's one last tool.

Now, all these, all these tools, let me just back step a little bit, all these tools are used, you know, to help you with understanding the basics of navigation. So like I say, the basics of navigation, your map and compass, and it's not basic to learn. Some of the stuff is hard to learn, but these are the sorts of things, paying attention to your landscape, knowing a few other little tricks for your tool bag.

These help with navigation and they, they can really help you build confidence with your other skills. They all go together, right? So these are, these are probably even more basic than the map and compass. Certainly easier to learn.

I just don't call them basic because when people are saying the basics of navigation, they're talking about map and compass, right? And using your coordinates and whatnot. So yeah, definitely not the basics. That's where that comes from.

This last tip here, this has more to do when you're starting to get into trouble when you're lost. All these tips I've just given you, yes, they can help you if you are lost. I suggest that you use them all the time as something in the back of your mind, orienting yourself to the landscape, right? That's what this is about.

However, if you realize that you're lost, whether you have a map or not, you're just, if you are lost or you're, you know, whatever, whatever part of your navigation system has failed, you're lost. Uh, the situation changes now, doesn't it? Right? So now you're going to more of a lost protocol where, yeah, best thing is to stay put. That's the advice we're always given.

(7:19 - 7:42)
Try and fight that urge. You just realized that, oh, I'm lost. Uh, this is an uncomfortable place to be.

Can you talk yourself out of not finding your way out right away, even in a bit of a panicked state? Yeah. Best thing to do at this moment, sit down. You need to stop.

(7:43 - 7:51)
You need to sort things out. You need to calm yourself. This is where you start making mistakes and things can get worse fast.

(7:52 - 8:50)
All right. Anyway, so we're in a different situation if we are lost. Well, here's, you know, there's that protocol where you stay where you are.

It makes it easier for searchers to find you. You can go into looking after your needs if you're going to be there for awhile and how to rescue or how to make yourself easy to find by rescuers and whatnot. But there is a trick that I do in this situation.

I do this with groups. I practice it regularly. And it's called, uh, I call it spokes on a wheel, spokes on a wheel.

And in my, uh, things, the kid, I always have with me a very small bag. My, the things that I bring on, even the shortest of hikes, I have plenty of navigation tools in there. And what I do have in there is a flagging tape, you know, the rolls of stuff you can, the red tape or orange tape that you can buy at the local hardware store.

(8:51 - 9:04)
And what I do, and I always have a compass in there, but you don't need these things. You can use alternatives to flagging tape, whatever you can find. It could even be, uh, you know, maybe you can cut up a handkerchief if it's brightly colored.

(9:06 - 10:31)
Just an extra warning here. If you're going to, if you are lost, this technique is a little dangerous. It could make you more lost if you aren't careful and it's easy to make mistakes in in the lost situation.

But anyway, let's get on with how you do this. I use my flagging tape and once I am calm and collected, or I make sure the group is, this is what we do. We mark the spot where we are at.

This is our home base. So if you have a big backpack on, you don't want to do this with your giant backpack on your back. You also don't want to ever be, or never not know where this backpack is.

This is, you know, if you're going to be there for a couple of days, because you're lost, you want every bit of gear that you have with you. But what you do is you mark the spot where your backpack is with the flagging tape, right? Mark it well. And because you've only been lost for a few minutes, you probably have an idea.

Your gut's probably telling you all kinds of things. What direction the trail was on or what direction you could go to kind of figure out where you're at and become unlost, right? So what you can do is the spokes on the wheel, the center of the wheel is where you're currently at. If I had a large backpack on, I would leave the backpacks there.

(10:31 - 16:27)
If I was in a group, I would also leave half of the people there, not to separate the group on purpose, but for this exercise, they would stay there so they could literally call you back to the center of the wheel. If you're by yourself, yeah, you have the flagging tape. And what you do is if you have a compass, you choose a direction and you walk in that direction.

You're flagging a trail as you go though. You're using that flagging tape. You're marking a trail.

You're looking behind you all the time to make sure you can clearly see that flagging trail. If a piece of flagging tape falls off the tree because you didn't tie it correctly or the wind blows it behind the bark or of the stem of the tree, that's no good. You need to see a couple of flagging tapes in a row.

They need to be well marked. You're walking in one direction that you think will help you get yourself unlost. You flag that line.

You go as far as you think you need to go, only to the point where your flagging tape allows you to, then you backtrack. If you have a compass, you're definitely using it to follow that bearing exactly because when you return, even if you can't see any of your flagging tape for some odd reason, believe me, it can happen, you're following the reverse of that direction back. In other words, 180 degrees backwards.

So you can find your camp again. It might even be a good idea to mark how many steps or keep in mind how many steps you've gone to, right? Because you don't want to be separated from your main pack, obviously. That would just make things terrible.

And if you're already in a bit of a panic state, man, you got to be careful with this, but it can work. Anyway, if you get to a certain distance and you say, oh, this isn't any better. It's not this direction.

You retrace your steps. You get back to the spoke of or the center of the wheel. You're collecting your tape with you as you go.

You're going to reuse this tape. You haven't used it all because you have a whole roll, but you're going to reuse this tape. You're not going to waste anything.

When you get back to the center, you might leave one piece of tape just to show that you've gone in this direction already. Yeah, didn't help you. Now you choose another direction and you do the exact same thing.

You flag line a very clear line and even when I'm doing this, if I had my large backpack, I'm also bringing what I call my survival pack with me. Whenever I go on a short walk, it comes with me and it has the essentials of survival. It's a very small pack, but it's very handy if I ever had to spend the night, but that comes with me and I'm being extra super careful that I can return to the center hub of the wheel.

I shoot out another flagging line. If that doesn't work, I come right back I repeat and you can see how you're slowly making spokes out from the center. Spokes on a wheel and that's one way that might help you.

You might come across the trail. If you do come across the trail within, you know, whatever it is, 10 or 15 minutes, you don't want to go much further than that probably. Maybe you do need to, I don't know.

But anyway, you find a spot where you can go, you come back, you pick up your tape and if you're pretty sure that that makes sense, sure, that makes sense. It has to make sense though, because if you're lost and you're decided to start hiking in a direction, you better make sure you're not making yourself more lost. There has to be a good reason to go that direction.

Yeah, and you got to keep your head, your head, you got to keep your head on these things, right? So I'm recommending this with lots of hesitation. I'm sure you can tell, but it's something you can do. What I do is I train for this.

I practice this not by myself so much anymore. I do it with groups and I tell them to practice this again, because you'll see how quickly it is when you're flagging a line, how hard it is to see those markers you've put up if they're not clear. And if you're not using a compass and you don't have and you need to realize how quickly these flagging markers can fail if, you know, if you're not doing it properly or if you're not marking clearly enough.

So that's Baker's Dozen Tip number, I think we're at 13 now, maybe 14. Anyway, I'm not going to go back and count. So lost proofing, definitely not the basics, is not advanced.

It's something about awareness. We're an adaptable mindset to face the story, disorientation. As we've explored this episode and these ideas, you know, being prepared can go beyond just knowing how to use a map and compass, right? It's about honing your senses, recognizing the natural cues, you know, staying calm under pressure, whether you're an experienced adventurer or new to the wilderness, you know, mastering the art of lost proofing is a powerful approach and staying safe and confident with your outdoor pursuits.

This can only help. So as you venture forth into nature, remember to stay vigilant, be prepared, always embrace the adventure with respect and the mindfulness. Don't forget you have to learn the basics which were not covered here.

That is the nuts and bolts of navigation, your map and compass, your coordinates. You need to learn it, you do, so go do it. Thank you for joining us on the Reverie Nature Podcast.

Remember to subscribe for more captivating episodes exploring the wonders of the natural world. Until next time, may you saunter forth, embracing nature's song and may the whispers of the wilderness linger in your heart.

Things that go wrong
What are the basics not covered here
What is covered
The baker's dozen tips: bird's eye view
Tip 2: look behind you
Tip 3: 360 degrees
Tip 4: The North Star
Tip 5: Moss
Tip 6: Sunscreen
Tip 7: Weeds in water
Tip 8: clouds change directions...sometimes
Tip 9: Shadow sticks
Tip 10: cant's see the sun? Find it this way
TiP 11: make a compass
Quick review
Tip 12: watch in the sand
Reveiw and introduction to Tip 13: Spokes on wheel